Page last updated at 06:30 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 07:30 UK

Developer's criticism of Powys Gypsy family site upheld

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The ombudsman said the planning delay was 'unacceptable'

A property developer has been awarded £500 after Powys council moved a family of Gypsies onto land without first obtaining planning consent.

The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales partially upheld his complaint.

The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority was also criticised for taking eight months to deal with a planning application for the site.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has urged the council to find the family a suitable location as a matter of urgency.

The property developer, who has not been named, complained that in July 2008 Powys council moved a family of Gypsies from a lorry park onto land adjacent to his own in an area known as Cefn Cantref.

He said the site was developed without planning consent from the park authority and without a licence from the Welsh Assembly Government.

The developer complained it had a detrimental effect on his company's efforts to market its own development.

I would encourage the council to take urgent action to ensure that the family group is provided with a suitable site as soon as is practically possible
Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman

He was also concerned the park authority failed to take enforcement action as the site was within its area and that the authority took eight months to determine a retrospective planning application made by Powys council.

Mr Tyndall ruled that while he recognised the need to move the family from the lorry park at Brecon, the council had time to prepare a planning application for the temporary site in advance.

He also said the eight-month delay in dealing with the retrospective application "was unacceptable" and "would have caused uncertainty" for the developer.

The council and park authority will pay the developer £250 each.

Since these events, councillors in Powys have twice turned down plans for a new £1.4m Gypsy site on farmland at Llanfilo, near Brecon.

The Gypsy family remain at the temporary site at Cefn Cantref.

'Significant steps'

Mr Tyndall warned that if the council did not now "act in a proactive and positive manner" then he was concerned "the events that were subject to this investigation will be repeated".

He added: "I would therefore encourage the council to take urgent action to ensure that the family group is provided with a suitable site as soon as is practically possible."

A spokeswoman for park authority said it regretted any delays or inconvenience caused to the complainant.

"The ombudsman was, however, encouraged by the significant steps taken by the national park authority to address the speed of determining applications, and is satisfied that any recommendations that he would otherwise have made are unnecessary," she added.

A spokesperson for Powys council said it recognised the need for a permanent gypsy site in south Powys and a considerable amount of work had been done since 2006.

"The council decided to locate the family on a vacant small holding on a temporary basis and identified a site that could be developed into a permanent site," they added.

"However, the council's planning application for that site has been unsuccessful.

"We will continue to work with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority in implementing the recommendations outlined in the report."



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